Fla. Complex Accused of Discriminating Against Domestic Violence Survivor

November 17, 2011
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The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) recently filed a federal fair housing complaint, alleging that a Florida apartment complex and property management company refused to rent to a survivor of domestic violence. The complaint, filed with HUD, accuses the community of housing discrimination based on sex and familial status.

According to the complaint, the female prospect was told she was required to provide the community’s rental office in Orlando with her children’s Social Security numbers, an act that could reveal their location to their abuser. Although she offered documentation to prove she had legal custody of the children and that she had been abused, the community allegedly refused to rent her a unit.

Allegedly, the woman changed her name and Social Security number after fleeing her abuser, but did not change her children’s names because doing so would require her to notify their abusive father. The woman said that the rental office insisted they needed the children’s Social Security information for auditing purposes, and to confirm she had legal custody of the children to prevent anything “dramatic” from happening.

“Tragically, it’s not uncommon for survivors of domestic violence to be stigmatized as troublesome by landlords who refuse to rent to them,” Sandra Park, staff attorney for the ACLU Women’s Rights Project, said in a statement. “This behavior is discriminatory, unnecessary, and cruel.”

No law requires rental offices to collect the Social Security numbers of minor children, according to the ACLU. Disclosing her children’s information and allowing the company to perform a background check could potentially reveal the family’s location through the children’s credit reports.

More information on this case is available at: http://www.aclu.org/womens-rights/hope-v-valencia-village-et-al

Source: American Civil Liberties Union